Emory Report
April 23, 2007
Volume 59, Number 28

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April 23, 2007
Cyclists take action for vaccine research with long-distance ride

by kim urquhart

The hybrid bicycle that gets Ted Pettus to and from Emory each day will soon be making a longer trek. Pettus, a professor in the School of Medicine, is among the Emory faculty, staff and students participating in a 200-mile bike ride to raise funds for the Emory Vaccine Center.

ActionCycling 200, set for May 19–20, is the annual long-distance bike ride of Action Cycling Atlanta, a volunteer organization dedicated to building public awareness of HIV/AIDS, to raising funds to support HIV/AIDS vaccine research and providing services for people living with the disease.

In its fifth year, the AC200 event has raised more than $240,000 for the Emory Vaccine Center. It will be Pettus’ second year to ride. “After last year, I was so impressed with the motivation and inspiration and the energy that everyone put in to make this happen that I wanted to do it again. They make it fun, with fun themed rest stops and a good meal at the end of the day.” He added: “I feel good about raising money because 100 percent of it goes to the cause.”

Rafi Ahmed, director of the Emory Vaccine Center, said that funds raised by events such as the AC200 are essential for the Center’s AIDS vaccine research program. The funds help fill “critical gaps in our federal grant funding and provide seed funding for innovative pilot projects,” said Ahmed. “Every participant is a valued partner in our quest for effective vaccines against this global killer.”

“AIDS affects all of us,” said David Hanson, associate vice president for administration. “Our vaccine center is one of the best in the world, and anything we can do to support our own center of excellence is worth our time.”

Chairperson of Team Emory and an avid cyclist, Hanson has ridden twice and served in various volunteer capacities in past rides. Hanson encourages the University community to join or support Team Emory. “Whether you’re a serious cyclist or just a novice, you can take part in this ride and do five miles or all 200 miles,” he said.

In addition to participants, volunteers and crew are needed to create a seamless and safe ride experience. It was the support staff and volunteers who enabled Pettus “to ride further than I ever dreamed I could,” he said of last year’s ride. “I told people I was going to ride 100 miles, but I felt inspired by the incredible good energy among the support staff and riders that I actually rode 160 miles.”

Improvements to the 2007 ride include a new start/finish line — on Asbury Circle near Dooley’s Den at The Depot — and a shorter route option of 75 miles. The AC200 will wind through scenic rural Georgia to an overnight stop in Rock Eagle 4-H Center near the Oconee National Forest in Eatonton, Ga. Riders can refuel at pit stops, located every 12–20 miles. After an evening of dinner and entertainment, the cyclists will head back to Emory, completing the 200-mile ride. A celebration barbeque at The Depot will conclude the event.
Hanson said that this year marks the first time that Emory is the sole beneficiary of the AC200, and emphasized that Action Cycling Atlanta transfers 100 percent of the proceeds to Emory.

Participants must pay a registration fee and raise a minimum amount of funds for the cause. Rider registration is $90 with a commitment to raise at least $500.

Relay Team participants pay $90 and must raise a minimum of $350. Relay teams can divide the 200 miles amongst friends, which must have a minimum of two and a maximum of five riders. Crew members, who will work both days of the event, must raise $100 with a $25 registration fee. Volunteers are welcome with no requirements, but are encouraged to raise funds. All money is due to Action Cycling by May 12.

To register or to make a pledge in support of Team Emory, visit www.actioncycling.org. To learn more, contact Alex Brown, director of development at Emory Vaccine Center, at 404-712-4145.